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post #10 of Old 11-24-2009
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The heave-to under bare poles approach

Motorsailing 800 NM back from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego (the infamous Cabo Bash) in 1993 meant refueling in Turtle Bay. The fuel was pumped/siphoned down via a long hose directly from barrels on a dock too rough and high to tie up to so you were supposed to anchor in the fairway and back up to the dock Mediterranean style.

Once your turn was about to come up (sometimes taking a day or two....) it was advisable to try and hold position as close as possible to the vessel being fueled or someone else might sneak in. In our case, we were right after a motoryacht taking on 1500 gallon or so, without anyone having any clue whether this was going to take 20 or 200 minutes.

A stiff wind was blowing straight onto the dock and there was not enough room to make smooth circles. Since I couldn't see myself making forced back-and-fill turns for more than a handful of minutes I started to try and keep the bow into the wind by countering the rudder and applying a little forward power.

Soon we found ourselves effectively hove-to under bare poles; i.e. on bow and rudder alone while slowly drifting/yawing sideways, i.e. parallel to the dock, until we threatened to run out of space and I had to push the bow through the wind with a little extra engine power, after which we would sidle the whole way back on the opposite tack, etc.

After 10 or 20 stressful minutes it was actually starting to become fun, especially when it occurred to me that we should be able to sidle directly into the fairway next to the fuel point, drop the anchor and let the wind push us back to the dock. When our turn finally came, this worked just fine (although we managed to make enough clumsy manoevers with the fuel hose to spoil our brief moment of glory).

As already mentioned by several responders, it all depends on the type of vessel, the local conditions and your own experience. Although I have hit too many docks, pilings and bow anchor stocks over the years to consider myself a hotrod dock acrobat, what I learned from this episode is that being forced to wait and think things through definitely has its plus sides.

Flying Dutchman
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